Stepping in again for injured starting quarterback Jeff Davison, junior Trey Ortega ran for 194 yards on nine carries, tossed a59-yard touchdown pass and booted five points-after to lead No. 2 Cleveland to a 41-7 rout of Cibola Friday night at Nusenda Community Stadium.
The Storm scored on their first three drives, and led 21-0 before the Cougars (3-4, 0-2) managed a first down.
Until the game’s final minute, the Cougars had been no closer to the goal line than the Storm’s 26, but sophomore Tristan Tabaha came in, connected on a 59-yard aerial to get his team into the red zone, and two plays later Anthony Garcia scored on a 7-yard run.
In the decisive first period, the Storm had back-to-back 63-yard scoring drives, the first a seven-play drive capped on a 12-yard run by Luke Wysong; the second on a five-play drive, ended on a 6-yard by Dorian Lewis. The third possession needed just one play, a 59-yard TD pass from Ortega to Treavon Dennard, following a 32-yard punt and 10-yard return by Wysong, giving the Storm a 21-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Lewis, accumulating 143 yards on a dozen carries, scored on an 8-yard run after a superb defensive stand, with the Cougars stopped short of a first down on the Storm 26.
Six plays later, that 74-yard drive ended on the Lewis run to paydirt, making it a 28-0 game.
Junior cornerback Isaiah Gonzales ended the Cougars’ next possession with an interception, and the Storm took over on their own 23. After Robbie Beal, getting a handful of carries in the game, gained four yards, Ortega scrambled out of danger in the backfield on second down and went 73 yards to make it 35-0 at halftime.
The 35-point mercy rule came into effect after that Ortega scamper, shortening the game quite a bit; Ortega scored on a 4-yard run for the lone score of the third period. Cibola had the ball for only eight plays in the third period, including a punt; the Storm’s scoring drive lasted eight plays and covered 87 yards, though made longer because of two penalties.
The Storm defense played one of its best games of the season, coming a minute short of what would have been its third shutout of the season. The Cougars were just 2 of 8 on third down, managed just that one visit to the red zone, and had as many punts as first downs (six).
Storm warnings: After losing their first meeting with the visiting Cougars, 31-14, back in 2009, the Storm have now gone 11-0 against in the regular season vs. their district foes, each time by 14 or more points. The only time the Cougars beat the Storm since Cleveland’s inaugural season of ’09, it was a devastating 42-28 first-round playoff game – at Cleveland, no less – in 2014.
… The Storm are back at Nusenda Community Stadium Friday to face No. 1 Volcano Vista (6-0, 2-0). Since losing their first meeting with the Hawks in 2009, 28-19, Cleveland has beaten VVHS the last 10 times they’ve met. That includes two games at CHS last season, a 61-46 Storm win in the regular season and 43-39 in a state semifinal.